Japanese internet retail giant Rakuten has finally given in to the pressure, announcing that it is stopping sales of all kinds of whale products on its Japanese marketplace. Environmental organizations published a report saying that Rakuten was one of the top places for acquiring whale food products as well as elephant ivory, and the Japanese web market company has responded by giving merchants 30 days to remove any product that has whale meat on it.
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Humane Society International (HSI) published a report last March 18, exposing Rakuten’s elephant ivory and whale meat products. The UN International Court of Justice had also recently put pressure on the country, ruling that its harvesting of whale meat from the Southern Ocean annually was not “scientific” at all. Rakuten has finally put out a statement on Wednesday which it posted on its main website, saying: “In accordance with the March 31, 2014 ruling by the International Court of Justice, Rakuten Ichiba today asked merchants to cancel sales of whale meat products on the Rakuten Ichiba marketplace. Rakuten has also requested these merchants to remove all related items from their online shops within the next 30 days.”
The EIA and the HIS acknowledge this move by the retail company, but says that it must follow through by also taking down the ivory ads on its website. “The removal of thousands of ads for whale products is a very welcome step and a clear recognition by Rakuten that selling the meat of endangered and protected whales and dolphins is seriously harmful to both its global reputation and customers’ health,” EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry said. But EIA President Allan Thornton added that “Japan is awash with illegal ivory trade and Rakuten’s thousands of ivory ads help fuel the mass slaughter of elephants across Africa.” HSI Vice president Kitty Block agreed with the sentiments, saying that Rakuten must go to the next level and “help protect Africa’s elephants.”